Whenever something new is introduced, plan to thoroughly teach carefully the procedures—not just once or twice but at least a few times. Every detail is demonstrated and includes, for example, what to do in the cafeteria with dirty spoons, plastic containers, juice boxes, straws and garbage after snack or lunch time. Kerry has her students practice each procedure at least at least eight times. She actually moves the kids around the room after snack time eight times and has them sit on the floor at the back sink and near the cloakroom where the garbage and juice box containers are located in order to have students experience the procedures that she wants them to follow.
She does the same for academic procedures as well. For example, for eight days in a row she sets up procedures for calendar time, for walking in the classroom to put assignments in the correct place, for completing daily independent math assignments, for quiet reading time, for poetry time, for phonics lesson times, for using tools such as pencils, scissors, glue, etc. The list goes on and on and gets longer each year because she sees how valuable it is to teach procedures.
Teaching procedures in such a concrete, patient and steady fashion takes a lot of time and teaching energy initially, but Kerry finds it allows to bypass almost all discipline problems. With all this step-by-step teaching and reviewing of procedures in the early days of the year, she doesn’t get to as much academic content as she would like but knows that time is not being wasted. In the long run the teaching of procedures pays off in increased time for learning.
Teaching procedures also creates a different mindset and atmosphere in the classroom than does being focused on “getting kids to behave.” She finds that focusing on teaching procedures gives the classroom a positive atmosphere in which all students are learning what they need to do. Nothing is left to guesswork. The natural result is students are well behaved simply because they have been explicitly taught to be—without ever mentioning the terms, “well behaved.”
More of Kerry’s posts are available at her blog.